Football is unquestionably the number one sport in Malaysia
, a country that has a long history of international footballing activity: qualification for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich; third place at the final competition of the 1974 Asian Cup of Nations in Iran; winners of the Merdeka tournament in 1974, defeating Korea Republic in the final; winners of the Merdeka tournament in 1976, overcoming Japan in the final. Malaysia
also qualified for the 1980 Olympic Football Tournament in Moscow, and as the host nation of the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship, the Malaysian youngsters also graced the tournament. Players such as Dato' M. Chandran (1972 Olympics) and Dato' Soh Chin Aun (1980 Olympics), among others, with Zainal Abidin Hassan perhaps the most famous name in Europe, were the stars of Malaysian football's finest hours.